Comparisons

“If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.” (Desiderata)

I have found myself comparing my life and myself to others as of late. It is not something I like about myself at all, but something that seems to be happening more often that it should. And, when I compare, I often find my world lacking, and then I get depressed and upset about silly things that I shouldn’t let bother me. More than that, it feels very selfish, and I REALLY don’t like that! I know I am not a selfish person, but I feel it happening in my life, and I hate it.

I don’t know why we are so disposed to comparing ourselves to others…or maybe I should say, I don’t know why I am so disposed to comparing myself to others. I don’t want to over-generalize, because I am sure not everyone is as…guilty…of it as I am. It’s not that I don’t have a great life, because I do. And it’s not that I so much want what other people have…I just don’t know how to explain it. I know this all sounds very cryptic, and I’m sorry for that. I guess I thought I had something to say today, and I am finding it hard to put into words what I am feeling in my heart.

There are such good and great things happening all around me, and I love that. I love the people around me that are experiencing such amazing blessings in their life, and I love the people around me that are feeling things they have never felt and believing in things they never thought possible. I love so much for them, so why do I lessen my own joy for them by then immediately comparing our lives.

And, if I am honest, the opposite is also true. When people are going through tough times, I feel much empathy and sympathy for them, but part of me looks at my life and says “Thank goodness it’s not me.” I’m sure I’m not the only one who does that.

Maybe it’s all an issue of honesty; am I being honest with myself? am I being honest with others? am I being honest with my God? And if I am, then great. If not, what am I hiding? What am I afraid to let out? What am I afraid to say, do, and believe?

The quote at the beginning of this blog is from the poem “Desiderata.” It is one of my favorites for many reasons. I think it has a great message, of course, but it was also something that hung in my dad’s house the whole time he was alive, so reading it reminds me of him. Here is all of it:

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

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